Discerning the Spirits


Jesus enters the Upper Room where the Disciples gather because of fear. Though the doors were locked, Jesus stood among them. This was not the crucified Jesus who was nailed to the cross. This was the living Jesus who shows where the nails pierce his hands and his side where a spear tore into him. It was a witness to a body, and the physical, external, dimension of life literally torn apart.

As Jesus stands amongst the disciples, he opens their spiritual eyes to look within. In place of anger, fear, worry, and all the other raw emotions circulating from one to another, the Lord simply but clearly says to his followers, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:21) Their external world is shattered. But their internal, spiritual world is coming alive.

Notice immediately after this word of peace, Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21). Interestingly, the meaning of an apostle is one who is sent. The apostles, there in the Upper Room, are given authority to becomes agents of renewal. In other words, on the other side of the door, is a world filled with anger, hate and violence but we—who follow Jesus—are sent to join the apostles and act accordingly by reflecting this spiritual experience of peace. As St. Paul writes, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

The peace of God passes understands because faith in the Risen Lord informs our knowledge and our ability to discern the spirits by bringing light into a world of darkness.  Prior to unlocking the door in the Upper Room, Jesus, breaths on the Apostles and saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:22-23).   

The Holy Spirit brings us to life. It is not a life of trouble, danger, or alarms clanging and banging inside our heads and hearts. We are stepping forward in faith where the spirits of life are discerned and the Holy Spirit is holy for a reason.  We find the peace of God but also within this spirit of faith we are grounded in hope which helps us step forward into the future. There is joy in our spiritual life because we now live in and trust God.

Life in the Holy Spirit leads us. Fear is strong. Faith is stronger. The proof is, “love never ends” (I Corinthians 13:8). By discerning the spirits—forgiveness—is an extension of love. A locked door, a room of fear, is filled with spirits claiming attention of those who are not sure what is going on in this life. Jesus enters the Upper Room of our souls. Here the Risen Lord breaths into us the Holy Spirit. Where there is brokenness, we are aware of a discerning life now capable of becoming holy

Picture of Robin Jennings

Robin Jennings

Robin T. Jennings is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, and an accomplished author, speaker and teacher who inspires his audiences with Biblical guidance and spiritual insights into everyday life. Whether he has the opportunity to speak to churches, businesses or organizations, Robin’s lifetime of work in spiritual transformation and renewal connects individuals with timely topics such as the importance of community, hope, identity and the search for meaning which are inevitably woven into his message.

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